Marketing Tip #7: Make It as Easy as Possible for People to Join Your Email List

text2join_signNowadays, we’re all so crazy busy that if something can’t be done simply and lickety-split (make a recipe, record on our DVR) we won’t do it. This makes assembling an email list an arduous task — not only do you have to entice folks to want to join your list, but you have to make it easy peasy or risk losing them. Therefore, with whatever email marketing company you use (I use Constant Contact), make sure you take full advantage of all the services offered, particularly social media integration since Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et al, is where many of us spend so much of our time these days. Yesterday, I (finally!) implemented the texting option for my email list so that readers are able to send a text message — my name — to 22828, input their email address when prompted, and, voila, join my list. I don’t know what took me so long to do this, but I’m glad I finally did.

Do you have a text option for people to join your list? You should.


Copyright Registration: Should You Do It?

Attorney Omid Zareh discusses copyright basics at the East Meadow Public Library on Long Island.

Attorney Omid Zareh discusses copyright basics at the East Meadow Public Library on Long Island.

I think most authors know that copyright registration is not a requirement for protection under the copyright law, since copyright is secured automatically when a work is created. So why bother registering a copyright?

That’s what I’ve always wondered, so I decided to attend a seminar last night at the East Meadow Public Library, Long Island, N.Y., titled, “Long Island Writers and Authors: Copyrighting Your Work.”  The presenter was Omid Zareh, a co-founding partner of Weinberg Zareh & Geyerhahn, LLP, based in Merrick, N.Y. Zareh advises in various areas of the law, including technology, intellectual property, real property and corporate disputes.

According to Zareh, although registering a copyright is considered a legal formality, doing so does give authors some additional protections under the law. In particular, if copyright registration is made within three months after publication of a work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. (Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.) It also establishes a public record of the copyright claim and is necessary should an infringement suit ever be filed in court. Additionally, it allows you to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service to protect against the importation of infringing copies.

And if that wasn’t compelling enough, registering a work is super-easy and -inexpensive. Simply visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s website, and file a copyright registration for your work using the Office’s online system. To file online, it only costs $35 (to file a paper claim, it’s $65).

Ease of filing. Cost-effectiveness. Added legal protections. Really, there doesn’t seem to be a reason NOT to register a copyright for a work. I think I’m sold.

I Didn’t Call Myself an ‘Author.’ Readers Called Me That.

Apparently, there’s another controversy brewing in the publishing industry over whether self-published authors should be “allowed” to call themselves authors. According to Michael Kozlowski, editor of digital publishing and device blog Good E Reader, the answer is no. And there have been a bunch of responses, such as this one and this one.

Personally, if I’m being honest, when I first self-published Baby Grand as an eBook in May 2012 I wondered whether I could accurately be called an author. Having been a professional freelance writer and editor for many years, I knew the term author to be an individual who had published a book the good old traditional way, through a publishing house. The rise of eBooks and self-publishing changed the rules, but did that make me an author now? I mean, officially? Or could I only use the term author if the word self-published preceded it?

I probably avoided calling myself an author during those first weeks of having published Baby Grand, until readers started reaching out to me and calling ME an author: “Are you the author Baby Grand?” they’d ask (never knowing how much of a loaded question that was), both online and off-.

In the very beginning, I found myself qualifying my response: “Well, yes, I’m a self-published author.” To which, NEARLY EVERY TIME, the reader would scrunch his or her eyebrows and ask, “What do you mean?”

The first few times I launched into an explanation and watched their eyes glaze over. After that, when they asked, “Are you the author of Baby Grand?” My response became: “Yes. Yes, I am.”

I realized that readers don’t really care how your book came to be, or whether you write full-time or part-time, if you’ve written many books or only one. All they know is they read a book that you wrote and that they enjoyed.

So, frankly, I find this controversy kind of silly. In the end, it doesn’t matter if we in the publishing industry refer to self-published authors as an author.

What matters is that readers do.

5 Reasons You Should Write Right Now

1. Because time has a habit of going by. If you don’t make your writing a priority — on the same level as your job or your family — it will always come second or third, and you’ll find that valuable days or weeks will go by in between writing sessions. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

2. Because you have a unique story to tell. As creative writing instructors (myself included) tell aspiring authors across the world, no one can tell your story but you. So get cracking.

3. Because it’s an exciting time to be in publishing. A chorus of new voices. A variety of formats. A slew of new author services. Seemingly infinite ways to reach new readers. What are you waiting for?

4. Because you ARE good enough. Silence that self-critic, but good! And even if you think you’re not, write anyway. You might surprise yourself.

5. Because somebody has to be the next Stephen King or JK Rowling. Why not you?

Building Your Brand: Create a YouTube Trailer

On Monday night, in a lesson about marketing, I was discussing with my continuing ed. class at Hofstra the various social media networks out there and how to maximize them when promoting your brand and your work. When I clicked onto my YouTube page, it suddenly seemed so uninviting and, well, unhelpful when compared to my other social media pages. While I’m not a big fan of book trailers, specifically, I do believe videos — of author events, appearances, interviews — can help build a platform. YouTube is kind enough to give you space on your landing page to upload a channel trailer, and it’s a good idea for authors to take advantage of this facet of the page to give viewers a quick glimpse of who they are and what they do. Last night, when I should have been writing — or sleeping — I composed this one-minute video on Animoto that I think does the trick for my needs, at least for now:

Although anything goes with this kind of thing, my advice is to keep your trailer lively, keep it short, preferably under a minute, and keep it professional, showcasing high-quality photos, videos or commentary. You only have a few moments to capture a viewer’s attention, so put your best foot forward.

Do you have a YouTube trailer? If so, post it or the link in the comments. I’d love to see it!

Book Trailers #2

Dina Santorelli:

Last night, I was discussing book trailers with the students in the continuing education class I teach at Hofstra University titled, “Take Control of Your Writing Career: Self Publish.” I was going to blog about that topic today, but when I checked to see what I’ve posted about book trailers before, I found the following post, which I’ve reposted. My feelings about them are still the same. What do you think of book trailers? Do you have one for your book?

Originally posted on Making 'Baby Grand,' the Novel:

When I first wrote about book trailers back in November 2010, they were a growing trend in independent book promotion. Now they’re pretty standard as part of a marketing strategy, as many indies and traditionally published authors have them.

That is, except me.

Last week, my writer-friends in the Long Island Writers Group were urging me to do a book trailer for Baby Grand.

Truth be told, I’ve been hesitant. Here’s why:

  1. A professionally done book trailer costs $$$$. Over the last few years, I’ve seen tons of book trailers, many of them not very good or effective. And I really think a bad book trailer reflects poorly (just like a film trailer would) on its book, which might be incredibly good. So if I were to do a book trailer, I’d want it to be professionally done. That means it’s going to cost me some $$$$, which leads…

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A Word About Lynn Shepherd and JK Rowling

I debated whether or not to address this issue, since it’s already gotten so much media attention and commentary, but I just wanted to say a few words about Lynn Shepherd’s piece for The Huffington Post titled, If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It. Obviously, this is a sensationalist title, and the article goes on to say that — although Shepherd has not read Rowling’s books — she believes that Rowling should give up writing adult books: “By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn,” Shepherd says.

Pretty strong words, no? So much so that my first thought was that the post must be intended as hyperbole. She couldn’t possibly mean she wanted JK Rowling to really stop writing adult books. Seriously? Then I thought it was a marketing ploy, a way to boost Shepherd’s profile, get more comments, higher search results — you know, in a there’s-no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity kind of way. After all, we authors need all the help we can get. But, guess what? Turns out, there might just be such as thing as bad publicity.

As you would imagine, the response to Shepherd’s post was insane. Authors (including Anne Rice) began condemning the piece and Shepherd, and legions of JK Rowling fans were calling for Shepherd’s head on a platter, many of them taking to Twitter and to Shepherd’s Facebook page to tell her so and also posting one-star reviews of Shepherd’s books on Amazon and Goodreads. It was nuts. I kept wondering to myself, Was she hoping to stir the pot? Did she intend to offend? Could she have imagined this crazy response, a response so big that the BBC News covered it?

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